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A Team Of Stars Turned Out To Light Farewall Path Of Cardiff’s Peter Thomas

By David Parsons

You’d have been able to pick a pretty good Cardiff rugby team from all of the players who turned up at Llandaff Cathedral to pay tribute to the man who became synonymous with the club and the region during his lifetime.

Peter Thomas died at the end of March from lung cancer at the age of 79.

On Thursday, the cathedral was full to overflowing with family and friends as a special memorial service in celebration of his life took place on what would have been his 80th birthday, 4 May, 2023.

Gareth Edwards led the tributes to his great friend and he and Jonathan Davies would have made a great half-back pairing.

The 2009 British & Irish Lions front rowers Gethin Jenkins and Matthew Rees could have joined forces with Dai Young to form a formidable front row, while Bob Norster and Josh Navidi were on hand to add further Lions experience in the back two rows.

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The interim WRU CEO Nigel Walker could have been joined by Mike Rayer in the back three, with WRU chair, Ieuan Evans, also among the 600+ gathering. – and so it went on!

Players past and present were interspersed with so many others who had come into contact with Thomas and his family throughout a lifetime of service to club, country and the business community in south Wales.

“I first met Peter and his younger brother Stan when I joined Cardiff in 1966,” explained Edwards. “Stan was a scrum half and Peter played at hooker.

“Peter came on tour with us to South Africa in 1967 as a travelling reserve. He never got onto the field, but he was a fantastic tourist who maintained the highest standards of the club.

“He was very proud of the 11 first-team appearances he made for Cardiff and then went on to play at both Ebbw Vale and Bedwas. When I first joined Cardiff, I learned of the legend of ‘Uncle Hubert, Hubert Johnson.

“His picture was in the trophy room and he was the man who ran the club. Nobody every believed there could be another supporter of the club like him, but Peter became that person.

“Peter became one of the finest men that Cardiff and Welsh rugby has ever seen. He brought to the club some of the finest Welsh players and added world class names like Jonah Lomu, Peter Muller and Xavier Rush.

“His great enthusiasm and vision helped to deliver some of the greatest moments in the near 150 year history of rugby in Cardiff – winning the Anglo-Welsh Cup at Twickenham and the European Challenge Cup in Marseilles and Bilbao.

“He had a presence and an aura about him that was almost regal, yet he was also very down to earth. Cardiff Rugby wouldn’t exist today if it hadn’t been for his loyalty, generosity and leadership.”

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As well as being a fervent supporter of Wesh rugby, Thomas and his family were also huge backers of music and the arts in Wales.

His service included a rendition of ‘Panis Angelicus’ from the renowned Welsh operatic soprano, Rebecca Evans.

There was also a wonderful arrangement of ‘Nearer My God to Thee’ from a choir made up of voices from both ‘Only Men Aloud’ and ‘Only Boys Aloud’, conducted by Tim Rhys-Evans.

The service ended with a magnificent personal and deeply moving tribute from one of Peter’s four children, his daughter Debs, to her father.

“He wanted to inspire the young and wanted people to succeed. His values were family first, leadership and love. He always told us that a life spent in service was a life well lived,” she said.

Sincere condolences were offered to Thomas’s family and friends, especially his wife, Babs, his four children, Holly, Debs, Steph and Rod, and his nine grandchildren.

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